United Kingdom

American firms lure junior lawyers away from 'magic circle' City practices

US law firms are luring junior lawyers away from City firms with huge pay packages.

UK-based US firms are continuing to ramp up their salaries for newly-qualified lawyers. 

Wall Street law firm Milbank is now offering generous starting salaries of £140,000 (USD $200,000).

US law firms are luring junior lawyers away from British firms with huge pay packages, it has emerged. Law firms in Canary Wharf are pictured above 

Rival US firms quickly caught up, with  Davis Polk & Wardwell increasing pay for newly qualified lawyers to £147,000 (USD $202,500) for first-year associates worldwide. 

Akin Gump matched the increase in pay. 

 In comparison, the five prestigious British 'Magic Circle' law firms, which include Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Slaughter and Mayy, pay first-year solicitors £90,000 to £100,000. 

Other big City firms pay £70,000 or more, typically with a bonus. 

British firms are now feeling pressure to raise their starting salaries to avoid losing lawyers to US firms. 

Clifford Chance and Ashurst raised their base salaries last week to £100,000 from £94,500 and to £90,000 from £85,500 respectively, according to a report in The Times. 

A partner with management responsibilities at a City firm, who was not identified, told the newspaper: 'There is a collective groan every time the US firms up the ante.

'We have always lived with the fact that there's a distinction between US and UK pay scales, but there is a "drag up" effect now that US firms are so much more embedded in London.' 

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